Sept. 30, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa women's basketball team kicked off the 2013-14 season Monday, holding its first official practice inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"It was a great feeling to be back out on the court," said 14th-year UI head coach Lisa Bluder. "Every year, that is what is so fun about this job; there is great energy. This team has great chemistry and feels good being around each other, and they are very driven. It was not hard to get the team up for this practice because they were excited to be out here."
The excitement surrounding the team's first official practice led to a high intensity level on the court.
"Practice went really well," said Bluder, who has guided Iowa to 12 postseason appearances in her 13 seasons at the helm of the program. "The intensity, attention-to-detail, and focus were very good. That can be one of the obstacles as we get into longer practices from the preseason, is the length of the practice and being able to stay focused for that long of a time. They were exceptional at that today."
For Theairra Taylor, the lone Hawkeye senior, it is her fifth first practice of the season.
"We played with a lot of intensity," said Taylor, a redshirt senior. "People were showing up. I am excited for the season. I have had this feeling a few times."
For the Hawkeye freshmen, Monday marked a day they have had their sights set on for some time.
"It was amazing. It was hard and fast-paced, but I enjoyed it. It was great to be out there with the entire team and have our first official practice. It is a crazy feeling... the first official practice. You have to get past that and think what you can do to get better, and that is what we did today."
-- freshman Alexa Kastanek
"It was amazing," said freshman Alexa Kastanek. "It was hard and fast-paced, but I enjoyed it. It was great to be out there with the entire team and have our first official practice. It is a crazy feeling... the first official practice. You have to get past that and think what you can do to get better, and that is what we did today."
Fellow freshman Ally Disterhoft echoed her teammates' comments.
"We came out and played with high intensity," said Disterhoft. "It was fun to get on the court and put into play everything we have been working on through the summer and preseason.
"Growing up in Iowa City, coming to the games, this is something I have been thinking about for a long time. The first day of official practice is always exciting. My parents were excited too, I received a few texts. It was fun to get out there, work hard and wear that Hawkeye practice jersey."
Hawkeye fans can get their first look at the 2013-14 squad at the Black and Gold Blowout on Oct. 25, set for 8 p.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa -- the only Big Ten team to appear in the last six NCAA Tournaments -- hosts Concordia-St. Paul in an exhibition on Nov. 3 (1 p.m.) before opening the regular season in the Hawkeye Challenge on Nov. 8 against UC Riverside (6 p.m.).
Tickets are available by visiting the ticket office at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or online at hawkeyesports.com.